Six Blind Dates is an outtake from a romantic comedy, Once More Around the Block.
Blind dates are a thing of our past. Today, one might use Harmony.com, an on-line dating service, or as the fated few discovered, Craig’s List.
A product of the Reagan Eighties, Gail was the unfortunate victim of a string of comic errors brought on by her over-zealous, controling family.
Out of order, this is the third of Gail’s blind dates I’ve posted.
The fifth victim …
A graduate of Columbia Law, Melvin Rosen works for a Supreme Court Justice in Queens, preparing briefs and doing law research. We meet near Times Square as Mel is a tremendous fan of Broadway musicals.
One look and I’m convinced that at last someone in my family has gotten it right. Mel has the body of a runner or a tennis player, lean and muscular. He’s blonde with amazing blue-green eyes and his smile, bright and welcoming.
Then Mel opens his mouth and sings. Sing did you ask?
Exactly. He sings a lovely introduction, “Hello, it’s so good to meet you. I have our tickets right here. Hello, it’s so good to meet you. It’s the best play this year,” and places two tickets for the Broadway musical, Cats, in my hand.
I recognize the melody from Goodbye, It’s Been Good to Know You, an old tune my grandmother loved to sing as I was leaving for summer camp. “My grandmother sang that to me, but the words were different.”
Still singing, he continues, “You can call me swell or you can call me jell. Doesn’t really matter, so most call me Mel.”
You ever get that sinking feeling in your gut? You know the one. The one that says, wait, this is too good to be true. I half-smile. “Nice to meet you, Mel.”
“Seems like old times, being here together, just like old times.”
By this time several people on the street have stopped to look at us. One man scans the crowd for TV cameras. “Hey, you guys doing a new commercial or something?”
Mel has a booming baritone voice, quite nice actually. I’m just not sure I want to spend the rest of the night with an Elvis impersonator singing all his lines. “Mel, the singing is nice, but—”
“No.” He holds up his hand. “Juuuuuu … juuust ggggi ggggi ggggive mmmme a mmmi … mmmi …. a sssecond.”
The little light bulb above his head is flashing. My cousin Arnold stutters and I remember how hard it was for him to complete his Bar mitzvah. Finally, his mother took him to a specialist who recommended that he sing all the parts, not just the ones boys are supposed to sing. It worked.
I look over at this lovely, blonde specimen, seemingly perfect in every way. So what’s a little stutter? With eyes like his, I can overlook a little flaw here and there. “It’s okay, I understand.”
He smiles. “Fiiii fiiiine … ggood for yyyyou.”
We’re standing in the theatre. I give the tickets to the usher, we get our Playbills, and are seated. He leans over and whisper/sings. “This is the third time, the third time around, though I haven’t for a while.” He points happily. “Me, I’m just the Rum, Tum Tugger, here to make you smile.”
I am relieved when they begin the overture. I have no idea what this play is about, even as I watch. Mel hums through the overture and sings every single song. At intermission we stand in the lobby and he continues singing. Again, people are beginning to stare, some move away and whisper to each other, and one woman complains to an usher.
“Do what you gotta do, when you gotta do it. It’s no matter to me.” He bows and the usher walks away, shaking his head.
During the finale of the play, the couple seated behind us tap Mel on the shoulder and ask him to let Grizabella do her thing without his help. He pouts and whisper/sings to me. “Can’t you see, I’m just a cat on the prowl?”
We leave the theatre after seeing the number one hit on Broadway and I have no idea what it was about. No offense, but no one knows what Cats is all about. Still, the Girl Scout in me is thinking he needs someone who understands. At that moment my grandmother channels in my head. Don’t fall for the singing, Gail. He’s a jerk like the others.
We walk in the theatre district for a while, Mel pointing to every marquee and singing a little from each musical. Under one marquee we are asked to move. I apologize and pull him down the street.
When we get to the restaurant, we are seated at a back table. Mel sings out our order. He looks at me and shrugs. “Nnnnnew th..thera … aw, treatment.”
“You’re singing as a new form of therapy?”
I wonder how he can work as a law secretary for a judge. He explains in a very long, drawn out series of misfires ending in his making a face. “Forgggget it.”
Gratefully, while we eat he falls silent. I try smiling and keep up a one sided conversation. I’m thinking I might be able to make him feel more comfortable, so I tell him about my cousin Arnold. His head bobs up and down and he starts singing again. People in the restaurant begin to stare and the waiter comes over and asks if there is a problem.
He smiles and begins to sing. “Sweetheart, sweetheart, sweetheart, do you love me ever? Do you remember the day … when we were happy in May? My dearest one.”
He completes the entire song, made famous by Nelson Eddie and Jeanette McDonald and several people stand up and applaud. The waiter also shakes his head and walks away. Mel stands and takes a bow.
I lean forward. “Maybe you could try singing softer, or whisper it to me?”
He leans forward and whispers. “Maybe you cccould lose ssssome weight.”
He bursts out in song, his baritone in perfect pitch and sings an old tune the kids in summer camp sang as I walked by. “I don’t want her, you can have her. She’s too fat for me. Much too fat for me.”
The same people continue to clap and are now laughing as well. I look at this flawed, blonde beauty and for a moment I’m possessed. My face is hot. This time I am not as embarrassed as I am angry.
In my head I hear my grandmother laughing. Go on gail, do it for me.
I forget I can’t carry a tune in a shopping cart, look into his gorgeous blue eyes and say, “Thhhhhis is fffffor my graaand mootther.”
I stand up and at the top of my off-pitch voice I sing, “So long, it’s been good to know ya.”
I take a bow. Some people laugh and continue to clap. Swinging around from the end of my bow, I take my water glass and pour it over his head. “Grandma was right, you are a jerk.”
Life is imperfect …
At best, we stumble around in the dark, often banging into furniture, occasionally crash landing on a soft body to keep us warm. I had one blind date in high school. It was not so bad as it was strange. He fell in love and stalked me until our high school graduation. A valuable lesson, he was the first and last time for me and blind dates.
I met the man I would marry, the father of my two children, on a subway platform four months after graduation. I was drawn by his dreamy chestnut eyes and his shy smile and knew before we reached our stop on Wall Street that I would marry him. I chased him for four months before I let him catch me. He was the first and last time I would fall in love at first sight.
How did you meet the love of your life?
Was it love at first sight
or did it take a while before you knew?
fOIS In The City
Note: Hey, I need fodder for my insanity. So anyone who has not sent me a one sentence prompt, leave one in comments. And visit Writing Forward for other ideas on writing prompts. A great way to stretch those writerly muscles.